There has arguably never been a more challenging time to make it in the world of illustration. With fierce competition among the constant stream of fresh talent, industry accolades can go a long way in helping illustrators stand out from the crowd and make a living out of their practice.
Celebrating great talent is exactly what the Association of Illustrators (AOI) has attempted to do through its awards scheme over the past 45 years. Originally launched under the name Images, today the association’s annual competition is run in partnership with the US-based Directory of Illustration.
The winners of this year’s World Illustration Awards have been selected from a shortlist of 200 projects, drawn from over 5,000 entries across 77 countries. The judging panel includes industry figures such as Faber & Faber creative director Donna Payne; illustrator Dapo Adeola; Google Doodle art director Thoka Maer; and the New York Times art director Katie Belloff.
There are two overall winners among this year’s crop. First up in the Professional category is Daniel Liévano; specifically his commission for Emergence Magazine to develop a visual interpretation of an audio story by David G Haskell to accompany the writer’s book, Sounds Wild And Broken.
Featuring a mix of digital illustration and collage intervention, the piece takes the listener on a journey through the origins and evolution of sound from the beginning of the universe.
“I took references on the Biodiversity Heritage Library, recreated animals and accent elements [and] developed a landscape background that evoked primal natural times,” says Liévano.
The second overall winner, this time from the New Talent category, is Tara Anand for her ten-part series based on Arundhati Roy’s classic novel, The God of Small Things. Created as part of her thesis project at the School of Visual Arts, the hypothetical illustrated editions of the book were created using thick strokes of gouache on watercolour paper.
“I chose the book because of the complexity of the characters and the idea that it tells two stories; one is of the characters themselves, and one is of a larger political and historical scenario. I tried to explore the tenuous relationship between the two,” says Anand.
This year’s competition also includes 20 individual category winners, 20 highly commended projects and four cross-category award winners. They were announced on November 1 as part of an online awards ceremony, presented by illustrator Oliver Jeffers.
The winners are featured on the World Illustration Awards online showcase, and in a printed catalogue of all 200 shortlisted projects. The catalogue is distributed digitally and in print to commissioners worldwide, and is also available to buy from the AOI website.